Archived Stories for Union County Public Schools
When Patrick Antonucci, Parkwood’s theatre arts teacher, decided to have an aspiring actor come and speak to his drama class, he didn’t have to look any further than his own family tree to find one. Antonucci’s fifteen-year-old niece, Gia Antonucci , just happened to be visiting from New York and school wouldn’t start for her until after Labor Day, so she was free to accompany her uncle to work and speak with his students about what life is like for a young actor in the Big Apple.
Gia attends the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts in New York City. The prestigious school, which was founded by world-famous singer Tony Bennett, places an emphasis on dedication to one’s craft rather than the pursuit of fame or celebrity. Competition for admission is very stiff. Out of a thousand students that apply to a program, only twenty or so will be accepted. Once you are admitted, the program is rigorous. Gia is a vocal student in the music program and her favorite type of music to sing is musical theater. Although she is a music student, she is also an accomplished dancer, taking classes after school five days a week for all types of dance ranging from pointe ballet, tap to jazz and even hip hop. Gia got her start acting, singing and dancing in community theater shows such as The Music Man, Oliver and Annie. Then she began getting parts in off-Broadway and Broadway shows. When asked if she hopes to make a career of musical theater, she humbly says, “I hope so.” But she has a back-up plan to become a dance teacher if Broadway doesn’t pan out.
She described a typical day in her life for the drama students and they realized how hard an aspiring performer has to work if he or she is going to excel. She wakes at 5:00 a.m. and catches a bus and two subways to get to school. School ends at 2:50 p.m., but she doesn’t arrive home until around 4:00 p.m.. She eats lunch and then dances every weeknight from 5:00 until 9:30 p.m. . Finally she has dinner and tries to get to sleep no later than 10:30. Parkwood senior Wynter Eberheart said, “Her presentation was interesting. I was surprised how long it took her to get to and from school… so many modes of transportation!”
Gia, who just began working with an agent this summer, brought her head shots and described what it’s like to audition for shows. You have to be ready to handle rejection. Broadway auditions are particularly challenging. First you have a singing audition. If you make the cut, you are called back for a dancing audition. If you make that cut, you are brought back for acting, where you are given a “cold” script, something you have never read before. It can be weeks before she hears whether or not she got a part. Once, she says, she auditioned for a Broadway show and made all the cuts to the very end, but then she was cut because she was too tall! The auditions that her agent lines up really vary. Sometimes she has to learn a complicated dance combination in only ten minutes. Other times she might be paired with a stranger to read a script.
Gia enjoyed meeting the drama students at Parkwood. After her talk, she had fun watching the class play improvisation games. The students asked her whether she and her friends heard or believed some of the theater superstitions they have heard about, like no whistling backstage. She wasn’t familiar with many of those. They also asked her about Northern versus Southern traditions and foods. When they told her to try Carolina barbecue and bacon-wrapped meatloaf, she good naturedly told them she was a vegetarian! Luke Jacumin, a junior in the drama class said, “I was shocked at how much she has accomplished at such a young age.” Gia wants to come back and visit Parkwood again. But our students may see her again sooner than they think, on TV in a public service announcement, a commercial or even a Broadway show!
Written by: Lisa Moniz - Library Media Coordinator
Posted: Sep 08, 2015 by Lisa Moniz